THREE NSA DRONE PROTESTERS ACQUITTED ON ONE CHARGE, LOW FINES ON OTHER TWO
A quick but comprehensive trial today in US District Court in Baltimore, MD,
for three women who protested drone targeting at the National Security Agency
at Ft Meade, MD, resulted in acquittal on one charge and conviction but low
fines on the other two charges.
Allowed to speak rather freely, in less than three hours, Marilyn Carlisle and Ellen
Barfield of Baltimore, and Manijeh Saba of Somerset, NJ, and their activist
colleague Malachy Kilbride of Camp Springs, MD, essentially put NSA
surveillance for drone targeting on trial by showing photos, naming names and
mourning children killed by drones, and asserted their First Amendment and
Nuremberg justifications. As defendant Saba in the closing statement said,
"Why would we, in a democracy, be expected to obey an order that violates
exercise of our Constitutional rights and responsibilities?"
Refusing to comment on drones or the NSA, Magistrate Judge Timothy
Sullivan exclaimed that it was "way beyond my pay grade" to make rulings
on government policies. He did agree with the defendants that areas which
are generally open to public access cannot become "protected property"
when certain activities take place, and denied the "attempting to enter...",
essentially a trespass, charge. He convicted the women on failure to comply
and disorderly conduct charges, but gave respectively $25 and $5 fines,
which with fees for processing total $100, much less than the possible $1365
fines and fees the women had faced.
The testimony of potential witnesses Col. (Rtd) Ann Wright and Code Pink
leader Medea Benjamin, with expertise in the illegality and immorality of
drones, was not surprisingly ruled inadmissible.
The courtroom was gratifyingly full of over a dozen supporters, who Judge
Sullivan acknowledged as likely to join future NSA actions after he heard that
Keep Space for Peace Week, a frequent time to demonstrate at the NSA to
protest space weapons, is appropriately happening this week.
Contact Ellen Barfield at 410-243-5876 or ellene4pj AT yahoo DOT com.
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs